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Chapter Twenty-Nine

"Dancing In The Streets"



    O'Grady's Grill could have been just another greasy spoon left behind when all the big money moved west to the suburbs - but it wasn't. Like in all the other eateries peppered across innercity America, a pair of ceiling fans moved air around a cigarette-burned counter. April and Coleen led their dates toward one of the four cracked and crooked roundtables that would have been discarded by a less frugal or determined entrepreneur. The fragile establishment's anachronistic electric bug catcher buzzed and smoked intermittently with captured carcasses from last summer - or some summers before perhaps.
     There were, though, three things quite unique about this particular nighthawkery. It was impeccably clean, incandescently well lit, and its proprietrix proved to be one-of-a-kind.
    When Rosie O'Grady emerged from the kitchen, a friendly aroma of steamed onions wafted up to my olfactory lobe. Proudly introducing herself as St. Louis born-and-bred, she helped Sly scoot a second chipped formica monopod over while Paco kicked some variably colored vinyl chairs into place. Unceremoniously, we self-appointed nightriders sat down to indulge our palates.

end page 497

     Smoothing her shapely girdled rump, Rosie filled a tray of coffee mugs from glass decanters behind the counter and told us to be patient. "Friends, it's difficult enough to walk in one of these newfangled girdles, much less wait a table wearing one."
    When Sly told her to take her sweet time, Paco added that we were in no hurry. "If you need any help with that newfangled girdle, just let me know, Rosie girl."
    While Sly snickered at his buddy's wisecrack, Sunshine slapped Paco for it. Unruffled by the exchange, Rosie strutted over with our coffee, and when she set the last cup next to Paco, he smiled devilishly and pinched the determined waitress.
    With a hefty slap, Rosie told him to watch himself. "My butt ain't communal property. Leastwise, not yet."
    As Coleen smoothed his battered beard, Paco apologized to Rosie and requested grilled burgers smoothered with raw onion - for everyone. "Sly says we all gotta keep our protides high."
    Rosie said she didn't know anything about protides. "But I do know a little something about lard."
    After she playfully back-handed Paco's chest and he coughed painfully, I asked about what her menu called Our Famous Obbies and Cee-Obbies.
    Pressing worn pencil to stone-carved cheek, Rosie described how her mother and grandmother started O'Grady's Grill after some ageless acquaintance of theirs came up with a novel idea. Rosie said this mysterious acquaintance of theirs knew how much everybody in St. Louis loved the taste and texture of greasy burgers, but also knew how unhealthy they were. So, Miss O'Grady said, this old boyfriend of her grandmammy came up with a notion for tiny little meat patties - each one no bigger than a pregnant poker chip.

end page 498

     As she talked, Rosie rubbed her firm belly. "Instead of fryin' the little critters in lard, they steamed 'em in onion juice. They came out tastin' great with a lot less sloppy lard. Everyone loved the onionburgers and cheese-onionburgers, and to make a long story just a tad bit shorter..."

    While Rosie spun the remainder of her gastronomic tale, I listened intently, trying not to recall how particular my father also was about his onions.

    Sorry about the promise of returning to the State Hospital one last time. But - before turning me over to the Form, dad did stop at a drive-in restaurant in the adjacent town. I wasn't in an eating mood, but pop ordered two cheeseburgers with grilled onions for himself, and one with double-works for his favorite collegiate protégée from Braggs. The multi-talented protectress had come along to make sure I didn't give dad any trouble.
    When the curb girl brought burgers with raw onions, dad told the trembling teen that he ordered grilled onions, but didn't have time for her take the food back. "God dammit, I have a business meeting to attend after I drop my son off."

end page 499

     Ten minutes later, as we sailed through the gothic gates of the State Hospital, dad told his well-paid bodyguardette that if a person wanted something done right, he had to do it himself. "God dammit, I hope we're not late for our business meeting and my breath doesn't smell too bad, Josephine."

    That symbolic episode finally banished to the past where it belonged, I massaged my neck as Rosie concluded. "So folks, that's the story of our infamous Obbie and Cee-Obbie. OB for onionburger - COB for cheese-onionburger."
    When Sunshine dabbed the moisture of frustration from my forehead with a flowered tissue, I said I could do it myself.
    Straightening my jacket on the back of the chair, she pulled out the cologne that Kimmble gave me and sprinkled Chaz into her delicate palms. "But that doesn't mean you need to do it yourself." She rubbed her wet palms together and splashed me gingerly. After returning the bottle to my jacket, she winked at Rosie and ordered half a dozen Obbies. "And a beaker of hot chocolate, Rosetta."
    Rosie ground her animated hip to a halt. "How'd you know my given name was Rosetta?"
    Sunshine said she was just good at guessing such things, but Paco growled. "Don't believe it, Rosie O'Girl. Sis is biorhythmic."
    Scribbling away on her pad again, Rosetta directed her query to Sly. "You gonna pay for all this, musclehead?"
    Sly said he certainly was. "Don't I look like a gentleman?"

end page 500

     Swiveling her girdled hips again, Rosie said she wouldn't know. "I haven't seen too many lately. But may I recommend Grandma O'Grady's Softees - bite-sized chips of potatoes simmered in olive oil." She snugged her chiffon apron and repeated herself. "No lard allowed around here."
    Pointing to a faded sign above the doorway just to the left of the men's room, Sunshine asked how long the main dining room had been temporarily closed. Eyes watering from anything but onions, Rosie explained it had been closed for over two decades. Sly told her to hang in there and ordered two boxes of Softees with his seven Obbies.
    Everybody else ordered about the same - except Paco. "I want piles of raw onion and plenty of grease with my red meat, Rosie Cheeks." Again, Sunny slapped him - and he radically changed his tune this time. "Bring me whatever you think is best, Rosetta."
    Three minutes after disappearing into the cubbyhole she called a kitchen, our hostess returned with a platter the size of a spare tire - piled high with Obbies, Cee-Obbies, and Softees.
    Paco looked at the intriguing boxes the burgers were in and asked what they were. "Rosetta, they look like midget versions of King Tut's tomb."
    Rosie explained they were her special Obbie containers. "They're called PeeCee's - Pyramid Containers. Grandmammy's Jewish boyfriend invented them for the '06 World's Fair. You can wait a month of Sundays and them burgers'll be just as hot and fresh as when they came off the steam-grill. And you can quote me on that, girls and boys."
    Sunny smiled. "A month of Sundays?"
    Rosie compromised on two or three Sundays. "Them Pyramid Containers there that Menachem invented would of changed the course of culinary civilization if they hadn't been overshadowed by the invention of the silly ice cream cone."

end page 501

     Miss O'Grady had my undivided attention. "Did you say Menachem?"
    She said that that was right. "Mena Menachem - the wise old Jew who was my Grandma's favorite boyfriend. She said anybody that got to know the old fart automatically got smarter. You heard of him?"
    Thumbing one of the cardboard containers, I said that I knew of his reputation - and mused to myself. Grandma O'Grady's Ohla must have been permanently enhanced by Mena's Mohla.
    Sunshine read my mind. "Precisely, Danu."
    Sly's face twisted. "Precisely what, sis?"
    Taking note that Mr. Sal Stone was unable to read my mind, I changed the subject to Rosie's great-uncle. "Freddie the Fireman wishes you a Happy New Year."
    After she informed me that Uncle Fred dropped the King family off at the Salvation Army, we all began to dine - including Dreidel.

    Following an hour of fun, flirting, speech-making, philosophizing, and real good food, Rosie cleared the table. Then Sly laid out a sketch he'd worked up with Paco and the Vets - the plans for a new Veteran Center to be built beside the Salvation Army.
    The Hollywood trio argued and bickered, sketched and resketched, cursed and laughed, erased and calculated - and even drew up a timetable. My admiration for the bawdy bunch grew as they argued whether or not the facility should be built before the spring thaw. Sunshine felt it was well worth the extra money to put a roof over the good people's heads as soon as possible. They all three agreed that it was acceptable to call it the VETS CENTER, even though anybody in need could live there - on a first come, first serve basis. Refolding the plans, Paco wriggled his nose and asked where Coleen was.

end page 502

     Sunshine took the spec sheets and said Coleen was with April. "In the powder room - if that's all right with you men."
    Paco stood up as he spoke. "Smells like bad news to me. Let's go reconnoiter, Sly."
    When the two of them marched toward the men's room, I grabbed Moses and followed. After kicking the wooden door from its hinges, Paco wriggled his nose again and nonchalantly pointed to the hand-dryer on the far wall. Whereupon, Sly strolled over to the chrome contraption - and kicked it right off the partition.
    Moving into position as if he'd done it before, Paco peered through a screw hole, then stepped aside. "Do it, Sly One."
    Reeling back, Sly launched his fist through the plaster wall. Coughing paster dust, he yelled through the gaping hole. "Yooo, give it all to us, girls! Right now!! And get back to the table where you belong."
    Pulling his arm out, Sly showed us a little baggie of marijuana and dumped it in the urinal. We all took a leak, washed our hands, and headed back to the table.
    Paco called out for Rosetta to get us three towels. "Men don't dry their hands with hot air. Put that door and the damage we done in the john on our tab - please."
    After Paco scolded the girls to tears, Sly said it was no wonder the two bimbos never amounted to anything better than a couple overgrown groupies.
    April and Coleen swore never to smoke dope again, but not before Sunshine set the record straight. "Girls, certainly we here believe in right and wrong - good and evil. However, many modern folks don't realize that there really are two very discrete forces at work to control our minds - at all times. God and the devil. They fight for control. At times, a usually bad person may appear to be a good person - and vice versa. Needless to say, one or the other eventually triumphs. And it's too bad if that one happens to be the devil." Sunny stared at April and Coleen. "The devil does his best fighting when our conduit to God is dampened by drug. God does His best fighting when the devil is awake and able to feel the discipline of pain and fire."

end page 503

     Pressing the issue, Paco asked if either of the girls had ever enjoyed anything except dope. Coleen admitted, that while she was in prison, she read about computers every chance she could. April said she loved to write letters to the editor of her small town newspaper.
    Paco snarled his response. "Yeah, but why waste the energy doin' either to get pleasure if you can get the same pleasure out of a bag of dope. Huh??"
    When the subject was finally set aside, Sunshine negotiated a deal with Rosie. In exchange for a loan from Pentacular Productions to get her main dining room refurbished and reopened, O'Grady's would supply good food and reasonable work for the locals until the Vets Center was completed. Additionally, Rosie would ship 500 Obbies per day to Pentacular Productions in Hollywood, at fair market prices, and supply 2000 Obbies immediately for the New Years run of the Great Freedom Flyer.
    When Rosie said she didn't know where to get that much beef on such short notice, Sunshine called long distance to Smitty and arranged for him to have a quarter-ton of his special Clone Strips ground up and flown in on Pentacular's helicopter.
    Sly explained that Smitty was one nice guy. "Rosie, you fly back on our chopper with the Obbies and I guarantee he'll show you a very Happy New Year."
    Even Rosie sneered at Coleen and April. "See what people like these Pentacular Ones can do if their brains ain't polluted."

end page 504

     Sly told Rosie to knock it off, that they'd never go straight, and struggled to his feet with bloated girth. "Time to get back to the Fox everybody."
    Struggling into his bulky coat, Paco said it was time to get down to serious business. "I challenge Sly and David to a dograce. Out front - right now."
    After thanking Rosie with an assortment of handshakes and belches, we all languished out into the night, overfed but feeling good. When I told Paco I was still too stiff from the flu to do any serious racing, he grumbled something to himself and jabbed me lightly in the shoulder.
    We were already down the street and halfway into the saddles when our waitress came hustling after us. Sunshine asked what she was doing outside without a coat, and Rosie said she had to tell Gloria, the Salvation Army's Head Cook, that she needed five weak patrons to help get the Obbies ready for the chopper ride to Kansas.
    Paco barked. "So why you want weak patrons, Rosetta?"
    Rosie responded with the obvious. "The strong ones can find their own work easier."
    Sly said it sounded logical to him and we started our engines. While we lingered to make sure Rosie accomplished her mission, I surveyed the neighborhood for any sign of the Empire Express. Presently, Rosie marched back to her grill with five friends, and I told the three Pentacular Ones that I had to stop a couple miles from the Fox to pick up my parents' car.
    Dropping Guts into gear, Sly told me to move 'em out. After we hung three concentric U-turns, I took the lead toward the rental canoe aboard Grace.
    While Paco and Coleen brought up the rear on Nuts, Sunshine, peering into the nightsky, whispered forcefully. "I'm sitting sidesaddle so I can watch Paradise. I wish we could see Freedom too."

end page 505

     A refreshing ride later, I transferred my creaky bones into the Cadillac. Paco kept the Wrong Brothers at strategic bay by promising a free rectal exam if they ventured near - with a saturday-night special holstered in his boot.
    Relishing the creature-comfort of the hefty body by Fisher, I followed the flamboyant cyclaholics west, watching Dreidel flutter along in the draft of their helmetless heads. Was I cheating on brunette Morningstar by fraternizing with blonde Sunshine?
    Parking in the triple-wide Celebrity Corral on the south side of the Fox, I decided since Margot had abandoned me for Arizona, there was nothing wrong with a little sex-free flirtation.
    As Moses and I struggled into the be-jewelled Stellar Elevator, Sunshine read my mind again. "Who said anything about sex-free flirtation, Danu?"
    While the others continued up to the Star Showcase, my matinee lady and I descended into the crowded lobby. As I opened a path through the human congestion, Dreidel fluttered from my shoulder and circled a white sailor cap near the concession stand. I told Sunshine that it might be my nephew, and she said 'Romancing the Stone' must have just let out. Following me over, she adjusted her oversized red sunshades. After I very discreetly introduced her to my family, she signed autographs for Marshall and Kimmble, and talked with Victoria about what a nice brother she had (me).
    Spotting Dr. Cole and Edith not far away, I waved them over - but Miss Sunshine was put aside. "Sorry everyone, but I have to get upstairs pronto and go over a song with April and Coleen." Pressing a holographed elevator card into my palm, she told me only to bring my family up to the showcase and hurried away - just before the Coles joined us. Dr. Cole asked Eddy and Marshall if they'd like to go to Howard Johnsons for a Clam Roll and Chocolate Soda.

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     Victoria told her son not to stay out too late. "You leave for the Great Lakes training center at dawn."
    After Marshall and the Coles followed the throng toward the street, I escorted Victoria and Kimmble to the elevator and up to showcase-level.
    Kimmble stepped into the circular corridor first. "You sure this is the right place, Captain Columbo?"
    I told her that, unlike Christopher the thug Columbus, I knew where I was. Circumnavigating the dimmly lit hallway, I hoped my niece would have thought twice about calling me Columbo if she'd known how he ravaged what was someone else's Own World.
    With only an incandescent glow showing from the distant shadows, Kimmble repeated her question - and a row of recessed down-lights flashed on immediately ahead.
    Sly swaggered into view. "Yooohh, it sure is the right place, people. And welcome to it, little lady, Captain Kidd, and company."
    While we turned our coats over to an impatient star-stewardess, I looked around the lounge and wondered whether Sly realized Captain Kidd met his fate on the gallows. Certainly, he had no idea that I'd nearly gone the same route.
    Before I could wonder any further, Paco stood from an overstuffed coonskin couch and adjusted his pleated white dress-slacks. He asked one of the star-stewardae to fetch refreshments for all his friends, then sauntered over. After slapping me on the back, he welcomed my family with unexpected poise and politeness.
    Presently, Sunshine rejoined us wearing a super-tight evening dress and complained to Victoria that she shouldn't have eaten so much. While Victoria was telling her she still looked like a queen, Kimmble wandered over to a gold curtain on the wall opposite the bar.

end page 507

     My niece poked her head behind the drape, but Victoria warned her to keep her hands off the glass. "Sit down and drink your Shirley Temple."
    Kimmble grumbled disdain. "Its an opening to the outside and there's no glass in it - just an iron guard-rail with built-in microphones." When she returned to her mother's side and Sunshine asked how she was so smart, Kimmble proudly announced that she read the newspaper. "Every single day."
    As showtime approached, Sly did jumping-jacks to relax while Paco dropped to the floor for some push-upery.
    One of the stewardae sprayed perfumed air-freshner in their area, but Paco told her to knock it off. "This ain't no damn Texas whorehouse. It's a Missouri bullpen."
    When the curtain finally swept open, Sly stepped to the guard-rail overlooking Grand Avenue. "Yoooo everybody - welcome to Hollywood, Missouri!!"
    As the fans' ecstastic kudos filled the neighborhood, a crowd-control officer who'd been quietly guarding the fire-escape marched over to advise the stars. "Sorry, but the City of St. Louis can not be responsible for your continued well-being if you get the crowd too worked up."
    Suddenly, the neophyte's walkie talkie blurted ominous numbers. "Code 209, Code 209 in progress at the Diamond Exchange Building."
    The fledgling officer cried out for everyone to get down on the floor. "Two snipers! Oh my Gosh - two snipers!!"
    As we hit the deck, the crowd's crazed cheering turned to confused grumbling - and I crawled forward to join the stars at the edge. The searchlights blinked off and the street fell dark and lifeless, save for the melanomic nightglow of a million cigarette stubs. The cold loneliness of the crowded nightair seemed reminiscent of a daytime occasion years before - along a grassy knoll beside a Texas school-book depository (the time Oswald took the '63 fall).

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     Holding Sunshine's head to my chest, I peered into the very real void of spinning lights and wailing sirens that made the whole scene so surreal. I couldn't help but be drawn back to the circumstances surrounding another day, one I wished had never happened - a weekend I'd been paying for ever since.

    That unfortunate Friday in the last quarter of the 60s, my landlord at PIB (Page Industrial Barracks) banged on my door and yelled that someone wanted me on the telephone in the hall.
    With all the alarming noises on her end, I had trouble hearing Dr. Lump's secretary say Liz wanted me at her office immediately - for a three-way with my father. Cynthia said to be sure and bring any Scrozac I had left (an experimental drug the good doctoress had me on for several months).
    With my Sprite's transmission out of business, I rode my motorcycle to this strangely unscheduled session. I had trouble getting close to the high-rent clinic - with all the mayhem from the sirens, bullhorns, and billy clubs.
    Cynthia waved me into the staff's private garage, and I proceeded upstairs to the regal office where my father was fidgeting. My mind was too drugged to hardly wonder what was going on - but Lump told me anyway.

end page 509

     Asking for my vial of Scrozac, she locking it in her steel desk and told us what all the outdoor commotion was about. "Excuse the inconvenience, David and Ray - but my investors were forced to have the entire St. Louis chapter of Jehovah's Witnesses arrested for protesting our proposed abortion clinic. For my investors' sake, I hope the Supreme Court isn't as stubborn as they are." As the horns went on honking and sirens wailing, Lump ordered me to continue taking Nullium and come back on Monday with my father. "We should have a chemical breakthrough available to replace both the Scrozac and Nullium. Your father agrees that your case needs to be brought to a head once and for all, David."
    Saturday morning back at PIB, I was unbearably nervous - but had no way of knowing it was Scrozac withdrawal. When I ran two red lights and almost killed myself Saturday night, I was convinced that I was at last losing control. Not sleeping that night, Sunday morning my mind was wired.
    All I wanted was someone to talk to, anyone - so I jumped on my Kawasaki and raced toward my parents' house. Throwing a chain along the way, I abandoned my bike and took off on foot - but the police spotted me and gave chase.
    As I dashed across my parents' lawn, the police yelled at me through their megaphone. "You there, in the jeans and t-shirt. Stop! This is the Police. Freeze!"
    Finding no one home, I freaked out and catapulted myself through a picture window - landing in the kitchen. The authorities stayed outside, but I was beginning to totally lose touch with reality. Cut from window glass and bleeding everywhere, I thought I'd gone irreversibly mad - as I'd been conditioned to.
    Scrambling into the bedroom, I found a snub-nose under my father's mattress (a loner from Dr. Capol) and crawled to the window. I fired out the window once, up into the underside of the roof overhang - and yelled at the police to go away. Not knowing what was going on, I barricaded myself in, imagining myself the bad guy in a low-budget movie.

end page 510

     I talked to the Chief of Police on the telephone and desperately told him that if his men came in after me, I would shoot to miss and they would end up killing me.
    Thank God, after a few long hours, the Scrozac demons diminished and I returned to relative reality. Tossing the gun out first, I walked outside with my convulsive arms up high. Cautiously, an armada of police uncocked their myriad weapons - and you know the rest.
    Next stops - County Hospital, Formington, and two decades of cataclysmic insecurity.

    That day was permanently in the past - now that I realized I'd never once gone over, not without a chemical kick. Tightly, my arms wrapped around Sunshine as the searchlights flashed back on and swept the face of the building across the way. Their luminescence washed onto the street as I combed the congested thoroughfare for some new sign of the Empire Express.
    Momentarily, as Sly jumped to his feet and pointed due east, the searchlights converged on two juveniles. Still in graduation caps and gowns, the youths edged away from a flagpole on the fourth-floor ledge of the Diamond Exchange.
    Standing beside Sly, Paco brandished his saturday-night special. "Go ahead, you little squirts! Make your moves!"

end page 511

     From beside the bar, Victoria crawled up. "No, pleases don't shoot Mr. Pino. It's two troubled teenagers."
    Struggling to my feet with Moses, I took the rookie's radio and thumbed it. "We see no assassins - no snipers at all."
    The transciever spit static, then squealed its query. "Snipers? Repeat - did you say snipers??"
    Paco grabbed the thing. "Yeah, a 209 - two snipers."
    The dispatcher blasted back that a Code 109 was a jumper "209 is two jumpers. A sniper is Code 29. What is your badge number?"
    Paco slammed the radio into the rookie's gut and we all laughed in frantic relief. Before long, though, a shaggy police detective in a rumpled raincoat showed up to inform us that the two children across the way had threatened mutual suicide by jumping in tandem.
    Suddenly, an updraft blew my bird into the showcase and she settled onto my big sister's shoulder.
    Victoria questioned the one-eyed investigator. "Detective Gumbo, can't you get a phone out to those kids?"
    Petting Dreidel, the detective scratched his head. "Sorry ma'am, but I don't think there's enough time. But if you'd really like to communicate with those kids, ma'am, maybe you could use this fine bird here to help out."
    Victoria thought for a second, then looked around. "Does anyone have some paper and a pencil and rubber band?"
    The clumsy detective smiled. "Gotcha covered right here, ma'am." Reaching into his baggy coat, he pulled out a small notebook and stub of a pencil held together by a rubber band.
    Victoria wrote a note and Dreidel served as her carrier pidgeon.

end page 512

     Three roundtrips later, after the teens crawled back to the flag pole and into the window, a long arm in a blue-and-white satin robe reached out and hoisted the United Nations Flag.
    Smoothing his boxing trunks, Sly re-addressed the outdoor audience. "Yooooo kids, Yoooooo Victoria. Is everybody happy?"
    While the crowd cheered on, Paco stepped to balcony-center and told the story of his hazardous duty as head ski instructor on the Borscht Belt.
    As the entertainment rolled along, I escorted my niece to the bar and asked what her mother and the kids had said to each other in the notes they exchanged. Sadly, Kimmble explained the teens loved each other so much they couldn't stand to live in a world with so much hate. "Mom told them to go home to wait for spring."
    I poured Kimmble a lemon soda. "For spring?"
    She took a couple big gulps and told me that her mother was having beautiful dreams lately, that when she wakes in the morning she finds what she dreamed about in a part of the Bible she'd never read before. "Mom told the kids a whole new world without hate was being born right now and they'd know all about it by spring."
    Hoping her mother was right, I asked one of the stewardae to fix another Shirley Temple for my niece. Personally, with all the excitement having only aggravated my physical condition, I felt like my blood had turned to glue and was beginning to coagulate in every muscle in my body. Present pain too bad to bear in public, I told the stars that my flu was getting worst, that I'd wait for them down in the corral.
    Giving me a gentle hug, Sunshine asked if I'd go out in the street on the way and listen to the song the girls and her had prepared. "Later - when we're alone, David - you can give me a full report on how it sounds from the audience's vantage point."
    I agreed and headed down the hall with Moses to be alone with my bird and pain. As I rode the elevator down, Sly's serious voice came over its speaker. "Ladie's and Gentlemen, the time for heroes is past. It's time for people to realize that it's up to us as individuals to change our own lives - and our world."

end page 513

     Bobbing my head in agreement, I limped across the lobby and out onto the evening avenue. Through the congestion, Dreidel led me to Eddy, Dr. Cole, and Marshall. Coming up beside them, I announced my prescence by tapping my cane lightly against the top of Marshall's sailor cap. He smiled at me and continued listening to the fun from the showcase.
    Edith motioned me to her side and asked me about her mother. "My grandfather told me you knew her. What kind of lady was she, Mr. Daniels?"
    The answer was easy. "She was the greatest - and the most beautiful too. One in a hundred million."
    Eagerly, Eddy showed me a ring that her mother had sent for a graduation present - a miniature white egg much smaller than even the one on Granny's keychain - mounted on a simple gold band.
    Eddy told me to look in the little pinhole. "It's a picture of my mother the way she looks now - I suppose."
    As I moved the pregnant pearl-sized amulet to my good eye, it began to glow and I peeked in on Susanna's illuminated portragraph.
    With a frown in her voice, Edith said she had hoped her mother might come in town for the graduation. "But I guess she was too busy."
    I was debating whether or not to mention that the woman in the pearl was the same queenly soul I'd seen at the museum that very afternoon - when Sunshine took center stage above us and asked everybody to join in. "We're going to render a Motown classic the way we wrote it today. Our new words will appear on the marquee." That said, she started to strum a balalaika while April and Coleen moved to her side, tambourines in hand.

end page 514

     After wishing Eddy and Marshall the best, I plowed a path through the crowd toward the garage. The fans banded together with the timely words that scrolled boldly across the GOOD NEWS MARQUEE ~

Calling out,
All around the World.
We are ready for a brand new Peace.
When winter's gone, then the time is right
for chanting in the streets.
We'll demonstrate in Moscow,
in Washington and Warsaw too.
And we'll yell atop the ol' Berlin Wall.
What we want is Freedom,
Sweet Freedom.
Until there's elections everywhere.
People swing and swaying; soldiers praying,
for Dancing in the Streets.
It don't matter what you're doing,
as long as your soul is there.
So come on out, everyone.
Every person, grab a partner
around the World.
Getting ready for the final Peace.
So we'll be shouting in the streets
For Freedom. Sweet Freedom.
Everybody, Everywhere.
We Are Dancing in our Streets Today!!

    As everybody sang and danced their collective hope, my craggy baritone joined in. I no longer needed to fear the deep end, but even the two-step was out of the question in my telluric condition.
    My soul danced a jazzy number though.

end chap 29



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